Fluffy feather pillows and eiderdown duvets – there was no way I wanted to get up and cycle. I opened my eyes and peeked at the world outside. That’s one of the many fantastic perks of staying at The Colintraive Hotel; you don’t need to get out of bed to look out the window at the surrounding views!
I quickly shut my eyes and tried again! Nope – that didn’t work. Torrential rain was bouncing off the ground and the skies were overcast and darkly brooding.
Still, we all made our way downstairs to a fab full English breakfast (or as nodge pointed out – a full Scottish breakfast).
Seeing the weather outside and choosing to act as support for the day instead of cycling, my little hero brought me a creamy hot latte.
Faton, also a bit miffed with the lads for leaving him the day before, decided also to act as support. I did remind Faton that I had cycled with him but apparently I don’t count as I was last anyway!
So whilst Rob impersonated an Ewok, Faton held the umbrella and together they got all the bikes ready.
Mario’s preparation for the day involved carefully wrapping his feet in plastic Tesco bags in an attempt to keep them dry. As the rivers ran down the road directly outside our hotel I was a little sceptical as to whether it would work.
We headed to the Colintraive Ferry to take our first ferry of the day. The ferry was just two minutes from the hotel however in that time we all got soaked to the skin.
We dolefully boarded and strapped our bikes up before seeking refuge in the sheltered foot passenger waiting room. As we huddled together trying our best to seek out heat spirits were still high. Or perhaps the affects of the whiskey sampling hadn’t worn off!
Getting off the ferry and staying dry was an impossibility as there was a stream flowing across the bottom of the ramp which was at least ankle deep. As the cold rain pelted our faces and our cycle shoes filled with water we resigned ourselves to a quick 15km sprint to the next ferry crossing at Rothesay.
A few kilometres further down the road and we were faced with a torrent of angry water running straight across the road destroying everything in its way.
We all got off the bikes to safely walk across. The water was upto Mario’s knees (my hips) and was raging. Logs and branches were being washed down threatening to knock us off our feet.
The current proved too much for me and I was terrified that my bike was going to get washed out to sea. Luckily, it was Kajtas to the rescue as he grabbed Pink and carried her above his head to safety. The water came well above our knees and even Marios Tesco protected feet were now soaking.
Now the problem with cycling in the rain is that waterproofs tend to act like mini incubators – so at the first hill, I was boiling hot and about to explode. I may have to rethink wet weather gear in future.
We arrived in Rothesay and quickly boarded the ferry. We managed to find a hot cup of tea and shortbread but that was it.
The lads started to debate whether we should call it a day and get a lift back with support or carry on.
Kajtas refused to give up thus the male ego removed all choice from Mario and Agron. Luckily, I don’t suffer from an ego so I chose to jump in the car.
As the ferry docked we all gathered for a quick bike check. The lads set off taking the greenock cut to Loch Thom.
The Greenock cut is an old aqueduct that used to carry water from the reservoir to Greenock. It has now been turned into a traffic free cycle way. There is a visitor centre at the top of the 1000m climb serving well earned coffee and snacks.
In the meantime, support parked alongside a busy dual carriageway. I took advantage of an empty bus obscuring the view to quickly change. I whipped off my wet clothes and stood in soggy underwear searching for a dry towel. The bus driver, with a malicious grin, decided it was time to continue his route and with a beep of the horn pulled off.
Of course, this drew the attention of passers by and soon a whole orchestra of toots followed. Red faced, I dived head first into the back seat of the car and yelled for Rob to drive!
Quite aptly, the radio started playing Four Seasons in one day by Crowded House and as we hummed along, the sun came out.
As support we decided to buy pies – partly because we were starving but also because we knew it would be hard going without a pit stop over the top of the wild Scottish moorland.
Despite poor reception we managed to locate Kajtas, Mario and Agron. They were about 2km ahead and travelling a top speed to the old railway line. If the got onto the railway line before we reached them we would’ve see the again until Glasgow.
‘Beep the horn’ I screamed at Rob whilst also slapping his shoulder from the back seat in an attempt to make him go faster.
Mario obviously thought we were just an impatient driver and politely made the universal ‘be patient’ gesture known to all cyclist and drivers.
Luckily, we managed to get them to stop in the nick of time, just before they reached the railway bridge leading to the cycle track.
We all stuffed out faces with hot pies, took a quick pit stop and then bid the guys farewell as they headed off along the Gryffe Track – a disused railway line direct to Glasgow.
Although we couldn’t get access to the Gryffe Track in the car, we did manage to find an old railway bridge crossing over the track and were able to get some great final photos.
And so our journey ended.
We had cycled a loop of around 350km taking in some of Scotland’s finest sights and it has taken us just four days.
Support prepared for 10hr drive back to London whilst the lads jumped on the plane at Glasgow Airport for the 1hr flight.
Thanks to everyone for their continued support, to our suppliers for our logo’d kit, to the boss for allowing us the time off and for our support for keeping us going through wind, rain, floods and flats.